Financial planning is an often misunderstood discipline. While many companies and individuals claim to offer financial planning, and the meaning of the term itself is often debated, there is no debate about one key concept. The absence of a financial plan, or the presence of a poorly constructed financial plan, usually produces chaos, feelings of unrest and missed opportunities that, once passed, a family may never see again.
There are numerous reasons that new clients come to Whitnell seeking a financial plan.
Many clients simply don’t have a financial plan. They realize there is a lack of clarity in their vision for the future. They struggle to answer important questions like:
- When, where and how will we retire?
- At what point in time, if ever, do we sell our primary home and what are the implications of this decision?
- When we have extra cash on hand, should we invest it, buy a second home or pay off debt?
- What is the impact of moving from one career to another?
- In general, what does the horizon look like for us?
In some instances, clients come to us because they don’t have time. It’s a much different skill-set to manage wealth than it is to build wealth through a business or job. Clients recognize that it is a huge time commitment to coordinate all the facets of a comprehensive financial plan, which include:
- Retirement planning
- Risk management and insurance
- Tax planning
- Investment management
- Estate planning
- Charitable planning
In other instances, clients have tried to develop a financial plan on their own and realized that it is a very tall order. They come to understand that financial planning requires a great deal of technical expertise which they may not possess. The risks of going it alone become too high.
Sometimes a life-changing event causes a family to realize that they need help with their financial plan. These events can include divorce, retirement, inheritance, the sale of a business, change of a job, relocation, new marriage and even the passing away of a family member.
Some clients come to us after a cataclysmic event in the life of a close friend, colleague or family member. These “wake up” moments cause them to realize that if the same events happened to them, they would not be ready. They realize they don’t know what they don’t know and this leaves them feeling very uncertain.
Some families come to us because they would like their spouse or some other significant person in their life to be more “in the know” about their financial situation. We have heard clients say things like: “I’ve got things under control but I’m concerned that my spouse couldn’t handle it if I wasn’t around.”
Other clients come to us because they have too many professional advisors who do not work together. These clients need someone to coordinate all of the advisors and all of the disparate interests that each advisor represents. These clients feel as if the left hand does not know what the right hand is doing. No financial advisor or other professional advisor has taken the time to understand the big picture and the relationships that matter most to the client, with the goal of arranging their financial life accordingly.